Life in Kampala brings the constant threat of accident, disease, illness and so on. One peril I found not to be talked about until arrival is the Mango Worm. (oh my gah, i just wiki’d it to provide a link for you people and saw that another name is “skin maggot”. i may vomit.)
Clothes drying on the clothesline are a prime target for Mango Flies to drop their larva. Even if you have nary a tree in your compound, the threat is ever present. The larva often live in parts of the clothes that remain damp (hemlines, etc). You put on the clothes and BOOM! the little larva become worms and borrow themselves into your skin. GASP!
The menace of the Mango Worm can be easily avoided if you have a dryer. The heat kills those suckers dead. If you are one of those people who do not have a dryer (for example, me) then you can always iron your clothes. To be honest I heard of Mango Worms when I first arrived, but we had a dryer at the Morris house so it was no big deal. When the dryer broke for a time we were like, “meh, there aren’t any mango trees in our/surrounding compounds.” Then a little before they went home on furlough Loring had a mango worm scare, which (PTL) turned out to just be a pimple. It was then that the doctor told us we should ALWAYS iron our clothes if we don’t have a dryer….especially undergarments that are closest to the skin.
To be honest, the scare was temporary and sick, nasty Mango Worms quickly became an afterthought. I mean, I didn’t know anyone who had actually had one. Then a few weeks ago our friend Josh was talking about how many Mango Worms he had squeezed out of his little 3 year old daughter’s skin. It was then that I bought an iron (which remains in the box unused). A few days after that Katie was telling us how she’s done the same for Fatu. Then last week my friend’s, Molly & Cameron, were talking about how they both had several Mango Worms before they started doing their laundry at a friends house. I was horrified and thought to myself, I should really get an ironing board to go with my iron….
Well, all that brings us to Sunday. My laundry was hanging on the line all afternoon, but it had rained on and off. My friend Sunny, who is in town working through the adoption of two beautiful children, called saying her Aunt had passed away. Sunday was also the day her husband was leaving to return to work in he States. I offered to come and stay with her so she wasn’t alone. Knowing I had Tae Kwon Do in the morning I was grabbing gym clothes. Unfortunately I could not find a clean/dry sports bra. So I did what I had to do, I took a soaking wet one from the line. I figured I would hang it up when I got to Sunny’s guesthouse. Of course, my soaked sports bra was the last thing on my mind when I got to Sunny. It wasn’t until almost midnight when I was going to bed that I remembered it was balled up inside a plastic bag. I took it out and draped in on a chair. The next morning it was still soaked. I asked Sunny if they had a dryer I could use and she directed me to it while she got the kids breakfast. I came back several minutes later admitting I couldn’t figure out how to work it. I could tell she was forcing back a laugh when she asked, “Really?” (long time gone, folks. long time gone.) So anyways, what did I do? I put that soaking wet sports bra on and my mind was immediately consumed with all things Mango Worm.
Since that day I’ve felt extra itchy. Is it actual itch I feel or is it just my brain responding to my obsessive thoughts on these disgusting creatures? I do not know the answer. Truly folks, I feel as though I was playing with fire putting on that wet sports bra. Here’s to hoping I don’t end up like this girl.